Popular view: we want more Winter Olympic medal moments. Unpopular view: it will take more public money to make it happen.
With the world coming out of one of the worst pandemics of the modern era, there will not be many who believe taxpayer’s money should be spent on sport instead of economic recovery. But it is not as simple as that. Investment does create medal moments on the biggest stage and it does inspire more recreational activity, easing the burden on the NHS.
UK Sport wants to make Britain a powerhouse of winter sport, but a return of two medals from Beijing 2022 looks like a step back after collecting five at the previous two Games. There is not a sport in the country that does not think it deserves a bigger slice of the funds allocated by the government and the National Lottery, but if it is serious about its ambition, it has to be backed up by money.
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Ski and snowboard will always be difficult to fund because of the lack of slopes in the country, but state-of-the art snow domes can still produce world class athletes – just look at Kirsty Muir, and what Dave Ryding achieved by learning on a dry slope.
To get real practice in, they will of course have to train away from home. There is no getting away from how much that costs and, with the world coming out of a pandemic, sport is bottom of a lot people’s minds when they are thinking about how to spend public money.
But, on ice, Britain surely should be contenders. The National Curling Academy was opened in Stirling in 2017 and everything seems to be heading in the right direction in that sport in Scotland, but more facilities surely need to be built across the rest of the UK.

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To be successful, there is an argument that the priority investment should be on ice rinks which can cater for a number of sports – curling, ice hockey, figure skating and short track speed skating, as well as their Paralympic equivalents. As GB’s national curling head coach David Murdoch told Eurosport before the Games, the energy which goes into maintaining the ice can be offset to heat swimming pools in the same venue.
Despite Cornelius Kersten and Ellia Smeding’s achievement of qualifying for the Games, there is not one long track speed skating oval in the whole of the UK, which seems odd for a core sport in the Winter Olympic programme.
Sliding centres are expensive to maintain and so building one to compete with the Germans is unlikely, although there are cost-effective options out there with developers creating a type of plastic which is almost identical to how ice performs.

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Britain has successfully borrowed talent from athletics for its sliding programme and that should surely continue, but bobsleigh cannot continue with £120,000 for a four-year cycle, if skeleton is getting £6.5m.
When you consider the resources they had available, it is incredible that Brad Hall’s 4-man crew even got close to the Germans – who pump money into bobsleigh, luge and skeleton and use sleds made by BMW, who even made a simulator for their athletes.
Maybe there is something in that approach. Most F1 teams are based in Britain – could UK Sport and governing bodies broker a link-up with one of the teams? Sleds engineered using pioneering technology by the likes of McLaren at its centre in Woking could be the difference in getting Hall’s raw talent among the medals.
Conversations about funding dominate the end of every Games. Basketball will be screaming at this piece wondering why it has not benefited from more public money as well. There are no easy answers, but if UK Sport is serious about its winter ambitions, some tough decisions need to be made.
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